Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mexico City-New York City-London

We woke early in Mexico City and from our 14th floor room, saw the sun coming up over the mountains and smoke billowing across the city skyline. Helicopters were hovering and we could hear sirens from the streets below. It seemed that there had been a fire at one of the cities largest markets. When we went out later, the traffic was being diverted and it was manic. Luckily, from what we heard, nobody was hurt.

Our bus trip from Acapulco to the capital had been eventful. En route, the bus had slowed down when a group of people stood in the road. They were holding big sticks and machetes! Everything had gone so smoothly up until then, but this wasn't looking good. There was some banter between the driver and the group. The door of the bus opened and they all got on. "Buenos Dias", each one said, smiling as they went past. Apparently, their truck had broken down and they needed a ride! The irony was that the security at the bus stations is so tight, and then half way through the journey, the bus driver lets a bunch of people with potential weapons on board!

It was our last day in Mexico City and we went to the Palacio Nacional, where the Mexican President has his offices. There were some impressive Diego Rivera murals and lots of groups of Mexican children on school trips. We also stopped by Templo Mayor, an Aztec sight that was discovered in 1978 and is still being excavated. It was very interesting and all the time new treasures are being uncovered. There was also a very good museum. Every time we visit somewhere like that, we wish we had studied archeology! It's so fascinating and there is still so much to be discovered. It seems even more amazing when it is in the middle of a big city! Under people's feet all the time! Lastly, we went to see Rivera's, 'Dream Of A Sunday Afternoon', one of his most famous murals.

We have had a great time in Mexico. It has been easy to travel around, the people have been friendly and helpful and it's a colourful and fun-loving country. We would definitely love to come back sometime, as a month hasn't been long enough and there is so much more to see and experience!

We had a fabulous few days in New York City. We had been away too long! We caught up with our lovely, lovely friends, Wendy and Linda. We went for lunch with them at the Cook Shop, an organic restaurant that serves micro beers and interesting cocktails. We walked along the Highline, the area previously used to transport freight on the now obsolete tracks. It is now a green urban area, used as a showcase for art installations and gives a different perspective of Manhattan. It was also very crowded, even in the cold March weather.

The Meatpacking District has been gentrified and is now full of cool shops and restaurants. Chelsea Market offers an enticing array of everything food related from elaborately iced cupcake to artisan breads. We checked out Marie's Crisis, a cosy piano bar, where everyone joins in singing show tunes round the piano.

A highlight for T was stumbling across 'Law And Order - Special Victims Unit' being filmed (her favourite TV show). T had her photo taken with Ice-T and Dann Florek and saw Mariska Haritgay doing her scene on the steps of the Supreme Court. We couldn't believe it, as we had talked about the possibility of coming across the set, but didn't really believe it would happen!

Lunch in China Town, happy hour in an East Village bar and s stroll through Central Park and Times Square, and all too soon it was time to head back to the UK. As usual, we were planning our next adventure before we even arrived back at Heathrow airport.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fun in Acapulco!

A long bus journey took us through the mescal producing areas, and then the mountains and a coast road to Puerto Escondido, where we spent a day on the white sand beaches.

The next day we took another bus to Acapulco, which took about seven and a half hours. Not as long as Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido, which took ten hours, but if Mexican roads didn't have so many speed bumps, we would have been there in half the time!

Acapulco is huge - it is simultaneously kitschy, edgy, traffic clogged and beautiful. The drug war has hit the city badly and apparently many people have been staying away. We were staying at 'Los Flamingos', the Hollywood hideaway of Johnny Weissmuller, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant and pals. We felt as if we were in a time warp - it was full on fifties Acapulco. There was memorabilia and photographs of the Hollywood gang who owned the place back in the day, and a bar complete with plastic flamingos and fiesta flags. It was situated on a cliff top overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with amazing views. For that, we overlooked a toilet that didn't flush, dodgy electrics and a host of over friendly bugs crawling under the door into our room!

In true Acapulco style, we went on a glass-bottomed boat around the bay. It was good to feel the breeze and we also saw some rather lovely fish and a sunken statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Meanwhile, pelicans flew overhead.

Back on land, we wandered around the Zocalo, where stalls sold tacky jewellery, shells and souvenirs. We used the ubiquitous VW beetle taxis to get around, which were cheap and nifty. The buses were interesting - each designed differently, often in vibrant colours and featuring everything from the Virgin Mary to the angry birds!

We happened to be in Acapulco on Academy Awards night and had an Oscar party in our room. We watched the awards, which were dubbed in Spanish on a fuzzy TV screen eating Oaxacan cheese on crackers and drinking wine. Go Les Mis!

On Ku's birthday, we went up in the hills to the Jardin Botanico de Acapulco, where there were cool boulders and cacti and we walked through a lush forested area. We also saw some spectacular bright pink dragonflies. It was a peaceful retreat from the downtown area. We went to the highest point to La Capilla de la Paz, a chapel which has a gigantic cross which overlooks the city. The views were fantastic.


Back at the beach, we went to a bar where Happy Hour goes on 24/7 and lined up the birthday margaritas, accompanied by nachos and guacamole. After an afternoon nap, we headed to the Los Flamingos bar, where Ku sampled the famous Coco Loco - coconut juice, pineapple, tequila and rum, served very flamboyantly in a coconut decorated with flowers and palm leaves.

We took a taxi to a restaurant called La Perla, and had dinner and more margaritas while we watched the Clavadistas dive from the cliff tops into the swirling ocean below. It was very breezy and we wondered if they would still dive despite the conditions, but they weren't deterred, and it was an amazing sight. They jump in on one side, swim over to the cliffs, scramble up to the top like monkeys, before making their dives. A very memorable birthday!